"There is no substitute for hard work."
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
-Thomas Edison (I think we would have gotten along with Edison)
Work to Ride Program
Since the beginning of Hidden Hills, there have always been one or two young people looking for a place to belong, to build on their passion, and sometimes just to get away from poor influences or a difficult circumstances. For over 12 years, these kids have volunteered their time to help out wherever needed, for nothing in return but the pleasure of working outside, with their hands, near horses, and alongside an inspiring mentor. These have been our "vols", and we have watched many of them grow up to make something of themselves.
Our Work To Ride program now involves 4-6 students per day and offers discounts on lessons and riding opportunities. There is plenty of work to be done, and we are grateful to share the load! Learn more below.
To provide an opportunity for young people to learn responsibility, horse husbandry, and barn/farm management skills, and to provide a way for riding students to earn discounts off their riding lessons.
Types of chores
There is lots of work to be done at the farm! Generally we start our helpers with barn chores in the evening: mucking the stalls, sweeping the aisles, filling hay and water in the stalls, and other chores that keep the barns neat, clean, and inviting. More experienced helpers may also be invited to help with chores during the midday or afternoon: checking stalls for hay and water and helping out with horse care, and possibly even helping with lower level riding lessons.
We also have a group of our more experienced helpers who do herd chores each day: checking on, watering, and feeding hay (during the winter months) to the five herds of horses at Hidden Hills (dry lot, three boarder herds and the programming herd). Workers will be riding on one of the farm ATVs or the hay wagon/trailer, and, when/if it is appropriate and with permission from parents, may be taught to drive the ATVs.
When is chore time?
Generally, Herd Chores are from about 3:30-5:30 each afternoon, Sunday-Friday. Sometimes, especially during the summer, Herd Chores take less time and we can get some other projects done. Barn Chores are best when the barn is quiet, usually later in the evening, around dark (5:30ish during the winter, and 6:30ish during the rest of the year), though our midday or afternoon shifts are earlier to help with horse health care. Barn chores typically last about 90 minutes.
Who oversees the helpers?
The Work to Ride Coordinator oversees the Work to Ride program, and is generally the one supervising workers. Other instructors may also ask helpers to work on specific projects. However, once someone has been trained in, they may work without direct supervision. A checklist at the barn will show helpers what is to be done each day.
Can helpers ride the horses?
As a general rule, chore help will not be handling horses except for turning them out or occasional hosing off, wound care, catching a horse, etc. as they are able and trusted to do so. Some seasoned help may have after chore riding privileges, but never should volunteers ride without specific permission from the WTR Coordinator or their instructor.
Are there any perks for chore help?
Our first volunteers had few perks; they came for the love of horses and for having something useful to do. That attitude impresses us, and those types of helpers are usually our best workers and the ones that we do our best to offer the most other opportunities for. Conversely, workers who come mostly to socialize or have an attitude of entitlement are not impressive to us. As the years have gone by, we have tried to find ways to compensate our volunteers for their dedication. While “perks” may vary individually, we now offer the following lesson discount as way to give back:
Helpers will work one session truly as volunteers. This is a trial period, in which the helper proves their work ethic to Hidden Hills. If the work is acceptable to both Hidden Hills and the worker, then they will receive a lesson credit to apply to the next riding session.
After the first month, helpers may work off up to $20/week towards the following session’s lessons. We value chores at $10/day, based on an average of 90 minutes of work. This is kept track of in the Chore Record notebook in the barn. At the end of each session, days worked are added up and a credit is given to be applied to the following session only. These credits must be used for the following session, and may only apply to the entire session’s payment, not partial payment (only up to $20 off per lesson). If a helper chooses to stop taking lessons for the upcoming session, the credit may be used for up to half of the cost of a trail ride or two during the upcoming session.
What is expected of Work to Ride help?
- Do a good job and have a strong work ethic. If we find your work is not up to par, we will remind you how we expect a job to be done. If your work is sloppy a second time, we will not compensate that day. A third offense and we may ask you to volunteer your time or ask that you not work with us.
- Be dependable. Once you’re on the Work to Ride schedule, we count on you. If you can’t make it one day, please give the WTR Coordinator at least 2 hours heads up. If you miss more than 2 days per session, we will look for someone else we can depend on regularly.
- Keep track of your work in the Chore Notebook. This is how we know you’ve done your job and keep track of what we can credit you for the following riding session.
- Holiday work: Life goes on here at the farm over the holidays! Farm chore help should expect to continue working. Barn chore help can check in to see if the barn still needs cleaning or if barn use was light. Extra days will count towards extra lesson discount.
- Enjoy socializing with friends, but make sure your chores get done well and efficiently.
Want to join the Work to Ride (Volunteer) program? Fill out our Work to Ride Agreement and give us a call to see what needs we have.